Wednesday, 22 April 2009

In Complete Darkness We Are All The Same

Spectrum of Diversity

According to Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752-1840), there are five colour typologies for humans: white people, black people, yellow people, red people and brown people. This is of course, a very rigid definition. It says nothing about culture, language, migration and social identify and is a definition that most rightly minded people would question today. Blumenbach was a proponent of "Scientific Racism" - a kind of pseudo-Science used to justify racism. Think American Slavery, Nazism and Apartheid to name a few. Thank goodness it's not the 17th century today...

... but, have we really moved on? Just look at the world today. We are still divided, even if not always by colour (whatever that is). Earlier this week, Penta Inspectors reporting back to the Education Council descended their presence on Al Shawamekh, our coveted boys' school here in Bani Yas. They did what lots of inspectors do, sat and pontificated, snooped around, interviewed people, did the obligatory lesson obs, drank tea with each other and so. Penta fulfill a role as an Ofsted-type inspectorate and would claim to be staffed by people who will have had some school leadership in the UK etc. Most, I figure are here in Abu Dhabi to enjoy the sun and splash around in a pool.

Al Shawamekh is a middle school for boys, and typical of government schools here is staffed entirely by teachers from across the Arab world - Egypt, Palestine, Jordon, Syria, Yemen, the Sudan and the Emirates. One of the inspectors was a remarkably rude and obnoxious person who asked me if I was the ICT teacher after witnessing a little disturbance outside a class. He wouldn't have asked me if I was white because he made the assumption that Advisors in school were likley to be "Western" and since I don't follow the "look" (racially speaking of course), the disorderly class was seen to be as a result of the nearest brown adult. Suffice to say, I was glad to see the back of this rude and racist man when he went.

Race is one of those things that we must be extremely sensitive to, so I followed with interest some of the goings on at the Durban Review: World Conference Against Racism in Geneva, Switzerland this week. Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad was one of the most high profile speakers and not surprisingly, he upset a few people with his ideas this week. It didn't start off well - there were hecklers at the very beginning who threw items at him and the European Union reps walked out at the beginning of his speech. We see Ahmedinejad through a largely one-sided political frame, and so it's understandable why many folk would be annoyed at his utterances. He's a maverick to some, an enemy to others, and respected by those who respect him.
continued in next posting ...

“In complete darkness we are all the same, it is only our knowledge and wisdom that separates us, don't let your eyes deceive you.” Janet Jackson, Rhythmn Nation 1814

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